In 1 Corinthians 7:6-9, Paul tells us that it is good for a person to remain single. In fact, he calls singleness a “gift from God.” Why does he think singleness is such a great thing? Paul explains his reasoning later in the same chapter in verses 32-35. The single person is better able to focus his/her undivided attention on serving the Lord. Those who are married have spouses and children that necessarily take much time and effort to properly maintain. Paul was not talking about retreating into a cave to study Scripture and pray in this passage. The Christian life is never about self. Paul was speaking about spending our time serving the Lord by serving others.
Do we really believe Paul? Does the Church think of singleness as a “gift of God?” Do you? If so, why do we constantly badger the single people in our midst with questions like “So, who are you dating?” or “When are you going to get married?” Do you think this may send the wrong message to our singles? It has a way of telling our friends that something is wrong with them or lacking unless they get married. Perhaps we should solve the problem of our singles by offering to pay others to marry them like they are doing for Nepali widows.
For those who are single, do you believe Paul? If so, why are so many of you wallowing in your singleness as if it is a curse? If you say that you do believe Paul, how are you taking advantage of your free time and resources in your service to God? That is the reason for the gift – to allow you to more fervently serve God. Are you doing that? How are you spending your free time?
I write this post as one who spent many years as an eligible single man. I was not married until I was 34. I understand the pressure that comes from others (including the Church) and what it feels like to view singleness as more of a curse than a gift. However, I also know that singleness really does give a person many more opportunities and options to serve. I am married now and have a daughter. Much of my free time is taken. I remember when this was not the case and I could immerse myself in serving others through ministry. I am thankful for my wife and daughter, but I am also thankful for the time I had as a single person.
What are your thoughts on singleness as a gift? Do you think that we as Christians really think of singleness as Paul did?